Seemingly at odds with the Los Angeles Lakers over his role and playing time, Luol Deng got to take the court Saturday for his first meaningful game since starting Opening Night of this past season.
Along with general manager Rob Pelinka and new teammate JaVale McGee, Deng was part of the contingent that represented the Lakers in the NBA Africa Game, a special event that raised money for charity.
This year marked a third installment of the NBA Africa game, with proceeds earmarked to support the Nelson Mandela Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club of South Africa, SOS Children’s Villages South Africa and UNICEF.
Though they represented the same organization, Deng and McGee started opposite one another, playing for Team Africa and Team World, respectively.
McGee did the bulk of his scoring in the second quarter, which saw the World Team pull ahead by double digits. He connected on a pair of free throws, had a slam dunk on a fast break, and capped off his seven points in the quarter by knocking down a 3-pointer.
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Deng showed flashes of his former self, jumping the lane to intercept a pass from McGee and then finishing in transition on his teammate. Deng later threw down a slam dunk with McGee the only defender back on the play.
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Deng made a layup to trim the World’s lead to four points with just under five minutes remaining. But McGee was instrumental in stopping a 6-0 run by keeping a possession alive for a 3-pointer followed by a slam dunk that put Africa in a 90-83 deficit.
Team World hung on for a 96-92 victory.